As an expat living in Thailand for two years, I was fortunate enough to see places and do things that the average person can only dream of. My world was turned completely upside down allowing me to live life with a brand new perspective.
Thailand is a sensory overload with an overflowing hub of diversity and culture that offers an array of beautiful places to visit. When people speak of Thailand most conversations revolve around pristine beaches and tropical islands, down south, or the buzzing, crowded and electric city of Bangkok, and perhaps even the quieter, more humble provinces up north, such as; Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
Khao Sok National Park
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A true hidden gem in Thailand that is rarely spoken of amongst travelers and locals is Khao Sok National Park.
The park is a nature reserve in Southern Thailand, in an area covering 739 km², showcasing exquisite mountains and the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world (dating back 160 million years). The park itself is mostly a dense green jungle, home to exotic flowers, birds, and animals as well as being surrounded by limestone rock formations.
Cheow Lan Lake
In the heart of the park, you will find Cheow Lan Lake, a 165 km² artificial lake, with waters a shade of alluring turquoise, adding to the already overwhelming sense that you have found heaven.
With a few days in this incredible location, you can enjoy an array of activities both in the park and on the lake, as well as, soak in the scenery around you by booking into one of their renowned floating lake houses for a couple of nights.
What To Do in Khao Sok
The size of the park and lake provide remarkable opportunities for every traveler looking to capture perfect pictures and create unique lifelong memories.
If you are planning a trip to Khao Sok, I highly recommend giving yourself at least two days to see and do as much as possible.
- Unwind and enjoy a lake safari on a traditional Thai longtail boat. During this boat tour you will see the rainforest from a different perspective, with plenty of animal sighting opportunities, and guaranteed tropical songs from within the park. As the longtail boat floats along the water, you will notice how clean the water and banks are. Most of the longtail boat drivers are also park rangers who show the utmost respect for their natural surroundings and will stop a tour, lean over the side of the boat and pick up any trash in their path.
- Explore the lake on your own terms with a kayak. This is a perfect way to relax, swim and enjoy the sun and surroundings with the beauty of losing all sense of time and responsibility.
- Awake the Indiana Jones in you with a jungle (rainforest) trekking excursion. With the help of experienced rangers (guides), you will explore the heart of the rainforest under a canopy of trees enclosed in a blanket of humidity. During your excursion, you will be up close and personal with the breathtaking and unique biodiversity on offer, with the potential snake, tarantula, and other creepy-crawly sightings.
- Cook Thai food with the locals. What’s a trip to Thailand without an opportunity to learn more about their unique cooking style and flavour combinations? During this activity, you will have the opportunity to cook with a local family and gain insight into the Thai spices, cooking methods and the secret to creating authentic food for everyone to enjoy together. Prepare to stimulate your palate like never before.
- Disconnect from reality as you sit back, relax and wake up to outstanding views every morning on the lake. This is perhaps the best part about coming to Khao Sok as you are immersed in the endless natural beauties of the lake and surrounding forest area from sunrise to sunset, all from the comfort of your own floating bungalow.
Where To Stay in Khao Sok
The two most popular places to stay during your visit to Khao Sok include the Khao Sok National Park jungle treehouses and the Cheow Lan Lake floating bungalows.
Depending on your preference and time in Khao Sok, you may want to pick one or the other, however, both options offer unique experiences suited to those who are looking to step out of their daily comfort zone.
There are a wide variety of floating bungalow and treehouse resorts to choose from, with each resort offering their own unique design and style. I personally opted for a two-night stay on the lake at the Kraison Floating Bungalows.
How To Get to Khao Sok
Khao Sok National Park is in the southern Surat Thani province and there are a number of ways to find your way here by plane, bus and ferry.
It is important to note that you will need to decide what you’d like to see and do first, and then determine your travel route to each destination as the entrance to Khao Sok National Park is 67km away from the Ratchaprapa Dam Pier for Cheow Lan Lake.
Traveling from Bangkok
Flying directly from Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok to Surat Thani Airport is a relatively easy option. There are regular flights in and out of Surat Thani throughout the week and certain airlines, such as Nok Air, offer a ‘Fly n Ride’ option when booking your tickets.
This means once you land in Surat Thani, the airline will have a transfer bus ready for you to head off to Khao Sok National Park or to Ratchaprapa Dam Pier (depending on where you are headed first). This option is virtually hassle-free and allows you to relax knowing everything is well planned and organised.
Traveling from Phuket
Traveling from Phuket to Khao Sok National Park or Ratchaprapa Dam Pier is also a straightforward option as it is merely a 3-4 hour scenic drive.
You have the option to either rent your own car and drive at your own leisure, or you can catch a public bus or minivan, from Phuket Old Town or the Phuket Airport.
Traveling from Krabi
Traveling from Krabi is very much the same as the Phuket option. Travel by car in your own rental or catch a public bus or minivan from Krabi Bus Terminal. The entire drive should only take 2-3 hours.
Traveling from Koh Samui
Traveling from Koh Samui to Khao Sok National Park or Ratchaprapa Dam is one of the more charming options, although not the shortest.
Koh Samui is actually considered to be in the Surat Thani province, however, it is an island off the mainland. From the island you can catch an ocean ferry to the Donsak Pier in Surat Thani where you will then continue on in a public bus or minivan, depending on availability and your preference.
Wrapping Up Things to do in Khao Sok
There is absolutely nothing better than stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring the beauty of Thailand. With so much to offer from beautiful landscapes, welcoming locals and alluring experiences, it is guaranteed you can make the most out of your trip and have a phenomenal time.
Khao Sok National Park is one of those places that will tick all of the above off your list, leaving you with magnificent photos and memories for a lifetime.